Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Getting Closer to Personalized Treatment for Teens with Treatment-Resistant Depression

National Institute of Mental HealthSome teens with treatment-resistant depression are more likely than others to get well during a second treatment attempt of combination therapy, but various factors can hamper their recovery, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print February 4, 2009, in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

About 40 percent of teens with major depression do not get well after a first treatment attempt with an antidepressant medication. The NIMH-funded Treatment of Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) study was designed to test second-step treatment strategies for these teens.
In TORDIA, 334 teens who did not get well after taking a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) before the trial were randomly assigned to one of four treatments for 12 weeks:
  • Switch to another SSRI
  • Switch to venlafaxine, a different type of antidepressant
  • Switch to another SSRI and add cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy
  • Switch to venlafaxine and add CBT
Results of the trial, which were reported in February 2008, showed that the teens who received medication plus CBT were more likely to get well than those who switched medications only. In this most recent data analysis, Joan Rosenbaum Asarnow, Ph.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues aimed to identify how to better predict a teen's response to treatment, and any factors that might affect response.
Results of the Study 
Many predictors were similar to those found in studies of first-step treatments, such as the NIMH-funded Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS), underscoring the importance of early treatment before the depression becomes chronic. For instance, like in TADS, teens in the TORDIA study were less likely to respond to treatment if they had very severe depression or higher levels of suicidal thinking. In addition, teens prone to self-harming behavior and family conflict were less likely to respond to treatment.

About the First Episodes of Psychosis

National Alliance on Mental Illness ~ Early identification and evaluation of the onset of psychosis is an important health concern. Early detection and intervention improve outcomes. Psychosis may be transient, intermittent, short-term or part of a longer-term psychiatric condition. It is important to understand the range of possibilities, both in terms of possible diagnosis associated with psychosis and the prospects for recovery. This NAMI website is a resource guide for your increased understanding of assessing, treating and living with new onset psychosis, including strategies to help the return to school, work and daily life.

What Is Psychosis?
Psychosis (psyche = mind, osis = illness) is defined as the experience of loss of contact with reality, and is not part of the person’s cultural group belief system or experience. Psychosis typically involves one of two major experiences:

A. Hallucinations can take the form of auditory experiences (such as hearing voices); less commonly, visual experiences; or, more rarely, smelling things that others cannot perceive. The experience of hearing voices has been matched to increased activity in the auditory cortex of the brain through neuroimaging studies. While the experience of hearing voices is very real to the person experiencing it, it may be very confusing for a loved one to witness. The voices can often be critical (i.e. “you are fat and stupid”) or even threatening. Voices also may be neutral (i.e. “the radio is on”) and may involve people that are known or unknown to the person hearing the voices. The cultural context is also important. For example, in some Native American cultures, hearing the voice of a deceased relative is part of a healthy grieving process.

B. Delusions are fixed false beliefs. Delusions could take the shape of paranoia (“I am being chased by the FBI”) or of mistaken identity (a young woman may say to her mother, “You are an imposter—not my mother”). What makes these beliefs delusional is that these beliefs do not change or modify when the person is presented with new ideas or facts. Thus, the beliefs remain fixed even when presented with contradicting information (the young woman continues to believe her mother is an imposter, even when presented with her mother’s birth certificate and pictures of her mother holding her as a baby). Delusions often are associated with other cognitive issues such as problems with concentration, confused thinking and a sense that one’s thoughts are blocked. These experiences can be short lived (e.g. after surgery or after sleep deprivation) or periodic (as when associated with a psychiatric condition or persistent like bipolar disorder or major depression).

After six Woodson High suicides, a search for solace and answers

By Justin Jouvenal & T. Rees Shapiro

A memorial wreath and flowers are seen where
Jack Chen ended his life.
 (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Washington Post~ The final evening of Jack Chen’s life was indistinguishable from many others. The sophomore returned home from school, ate dinner with his mother and retired to his room. His mother asked him to turn out his light at midnight.

Inside his bedroom, anguish gnawed at him, a darkness invisible to friends and family: He maintained a 4.3 grade-point average at one of the area’s top high schools, was a captain of the junior varsity football team and had never tried drugs or alcohol.

But that hidden pain drove Jack from his Fairfax Station home early the next morning — Wednesday, Feb. 26. The 15-year-old, who pestered his father to quit smoking and wear his safety belt, walked to nearby tracks and stepped between the rails as a commuter train approached.

His death is one of six apparent suicides at Fairfax’s W.T.Woodson High School during the past three years, including another student found dead the next day. The toll has left the school community reeling and prompted an urgent question: Why would so many teens from a single suburban school take their lives?

County officials say they do not believe the deaths are directly connected, and experts say that suicides among teens occurring in such a short span are extremely rare.

Students have cried openly in Woodson’s hallways while teachers have tried to show resilience. Frustrated parents have asked the Woodson leadership and school system administrators for answers while wondering whether the school’s high-pressure, high-achieving culture could be playing a role.

“A loss like this cuts a deep wound. It persists. It lingers. It’s very slow to heal,” said Steve Stuban, whose son attended Woodson and committed suicide in 2011. “I have no idea what causes this to occur with increased incidence. All I know is it seems it’s occurring more at Woodson than any other place in the county.”

Teen Moodiness, or Borderline Personality Disorder?

Consults New York Times Blog  ~ When The Times’s Personal Health columnist Jane Brody wrote about borderline personality disorder in “An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread,” hundreds of readers had questions about the diagnosis and treatment of the troubling condition, characterized by impulsive behaviors, shifting moods and often frequent thoughts of suicide.

Dr. Alec Miller
via Consult Blogs New York Times
Here, Dr. Alec Miller, professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences and chief of child and adolescent psychology at Montefiore Medical Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, responds to readers’ questions about borderline personality disorder in teenagers. Dr. Miller has spent the past 15 years working with adolescents and adults with borderline personality disorder and borderline features in inpatient, outpatient and school settings. He is also director of Montefiore’s Adolescent Depression and Suicide Program and co-founder of Cognitive and Behavioral Consultants of Westchester in White Plains, N.Y.

Teenage Mood Swings or Borderline Personality Disorder?

Q. How can one distinguish between BPD and the usual teenage emotional swings? - Toyon

A. Dr. Miller responds:
In order for someone to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, or BPD, they need to meet 5 of 9 criteria in the DSM-IV, the manual of mental disorders that health professionals use for diagnosis. These criteria are varied but typically include extremely poor regulation of mood and behavior that lasts more than a year and that is unrelated to another psychiatric disorder.

Many teenagers have a day or even a few days when they get upset and slam a door or curse at their parents. But teens with borderline personality disorder engage in more extreme behaviors — and more often — than the average teen, and these behaviors impair their social, school and working lives.

For example, a teenager with borderline personality disorder may get angry, slam a door and then proceed to cut himself or overdose on pills and require medical attention. Another teen with BPD may feel sad and lonely and proceed to abuse alcohol and engage in promiscuous sex, which may result in pregnancy. The point here is that these teens’ extreme behavior typically follows their inability to tolerate negative emotions like anger.

Video Games Can Be as Addictive as Illicit Drugs

Addiction Treatment Magazine Getting between someone who is addicted and their drug of choice can prove to be a precarious move. Those struggling with an addiction become so attached to their preferred medium of pleasure delivery that they will often choose it over their own families. It can be alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, food, and even the Internet and video games.

Image from EvilControllers.com
The American Psychological Association’s diagnostic manual reflects this in its next release in May – violent video games can affect the pleasure center of the brain as intensely as drugs. Doctors have found that the area of the brain that is stimulated so rewarding while playing video games is the same area of the brain pleasured by alcohol and drugs. And, unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable to the powers of this gaming addiction. Some researchers are finding that video game addicts will get violent, physically and/or verbally, when someone puts a halt to their gaming, including their parents or siblings.

One researcher with nearly 20 years of experience in studying Internet-based addictions said violent games are often associated with aggressive behavior. Otherwise well-behaving kids that become addicted to gaming have been known to strike out at his/her parents when they intervene with the gaming.

Video Game Addiction
Researchers are also finding links between Internet addiction and mental issues, such as anxiety, depression and various learning disabilities. Most of the affected are young men or adolescents that are using gaming as an escape. It’s really no different than an alcoholic who finds pleasure in a bottle. But the source of the problem isn’t necessarily the game or the bottle; it’s something inside the brain of the addicted person that researchers are trying to unlock. At the same rate, researchers also warn that introducing youths to electronic gaming devices at an early age, which is a common practice in the developed world, can be as detrimental as handing them an addictive drug.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Paranoid personality disorder, or PPD, is a psychiatric condition in which a person is very suspicious and distrustful of others. 

See More from Health Guru

Learn more about Teen Paranoid Personality Disorder Treatment

What's a delusional disorder?

Psychology TodayDelusional disorder refers to a condition associated with one or more nonbizarre delusions of thinking—such as expressing beliefs that occur in real life such as being poisoned, being stalked, being loved or deceived, or having an illness, provided no other symptoms of schizophrenia are exhibited.
Delusions may seem believable at face value, and patients may appear normal as long as an outsider does not touch upon their delusional themes. Mood episodes are relatively brief compared with the total duration of the delusional periods. Also, these delusions are not due to a medical condition or substance abuse.

Themes of delusions may fall into the following types: erotomanic type (patient believes that a person, usually of higher social standing, is in love with the individual); grandiose type (patient believes that he has some great but unrecognized talent or insight, a special identity, knowledge, power, self-worth, or special relationship with someone famous or with God); jealous type (patient believes his partner has been unfaithful); persecutory type (patient believes he is being cheated, spied on, drugged, followed, slandered, or somehow mistreated); somatic type (patient believes he is experiencing physical sensations or bodily dysfunctions—such as foul odors or insects crawling on or under the skin—or is suffering from a general medical condition or defect); mixed type (characteristics of more than one of the above types, but no one theme dominates); or unspecified type (patient's delusions do not fall in described categories).

I Believe I Have DPD (Dependent Personality Disorder)

Experience ProjectI have lost so many friends through being clingy, dependent, avoiding arguments for fear of losing friends, taking a lot of stick from people including allowing myself to be used, I just cant help it, as soon as someone is nice to me, I want them to be my best friend, I want to see them every day, I text as soon as i have their number etc. 

I am married to a wonderful man who i can truly say, loves me back, this i dont doubt ( well i do, i ask him every day if he still loves me!) I could never argue with him, I am very submissive, but I do know I am respected.

Someone I was very close to has basically turned on me and said she cant handle me as I am too clingy, and I am hurting so much (there's a lot more to it though) and I am trying so hard to be strong and keep my distance for both our sakes but I am really struggling so much, I want to get out of this cycle, and I'm fed up of being lonely.

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Learn more about Teen Dependent Personality Disorder 

School Pressure: Rx to Self-Medicate?

Huffington Post~ Too much academic pressure can sometimes lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Many argue with me that it's the other way around. That alcohol use can lead to poor grades, loss of interest in school, feelings of hopelessness. I know there is an argument for that, too, but it's not what I see. We may be talking about two different groups of teens. That's another discussion.
Seems to me that the school pressures are increasing by the day. The schools have the best of intentions and work within the system they are given, but it's broken. Pressure from school to make the grades; pressure to go to college; pressure from many parents to get into the best colleges; pressure to be in extracurriculars; pressure to live a life that sometimes disrupts their true identity; all hang heavy over many teens' outlooks.
I often ask my clients what is it that is truly you? I can't count the number of times I hear a statement like this. "My dream is to be in sports, maybe a basketball talent scout, or a baseball team's general manager one day, but it's just not realistic. So I'm thinking about going into accounting, law or maybe becoming a doctor."
Now these are all great professions if it's what he or she wants, but what if your son or daughter doesn't? What if he or she hears the beat of a different drummer? He or she needs the freedom to listen to his or her own heart, and follow what it tells him or her to do. To find his or her own passion as he or she moves forward.
My concern is that this is what they've heard from school, family, friends... but not from their own hearts.
We don't intend to push them in the direction that we want for them but it's pretty easy to do without realizing it. I hear teens discussing their futures based on the criteria of others. I watch their reactions, their overwhelm, their desperation, their resignation. This pressure can be crushing, and again taking them away from their true identities.
The idea of being realistic squashes the identity of many teens and pushes them to lives that are just not right for them.
The typical "reasons" that we've all heard are not necessarily the reasons these kids drink. When I sit down with a client and we get into a discussion, the real reasons become clear.
Most of the time, it's the pressure, the stress of living in this chaotic world, and it doesn't happen overnight. It's pressure that has been building up from the time they were in the first grade.
The pressure has built and built until teens are looking for a way to escape. Drugs and alcohol offer one form of escape. The further the teen moves away from who they really are and from what they really want, the more prone they are to abuse substances.
What I often see is that when these teens aren't able to live as themselves, the person they really are, and the pressures around them build and build... they sometimes turn to drugs and alcohol.
Academic pressure sometimes pushes teens to drink and use drugs.
With teens who are always over-extended in school and extracurricular activities, their schedules are just too much. When I ask the question: "Why drink?" The answer is almost always, "I need to take a break from the pressure." "I just can't take it anymore."

Multiple Personality Disorder

image from smashinglists.com
Smashing Lists~ Before the 19th century, people exhibiting symptoms of the disorder were believed to be possessed. An intense interest in spiritualism, parapsychology, and hypnosis continued throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and may be even till today.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. the name for this diagnosis is multiple personality disorder. The diagnosis requires that at least two personalities routinely take control of the individual’s behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness.

Many teens tell survey they’re addicted to social media, texting

By Cecilia Kang

image from mashable.com
Washington Post ~ Nine out of 10 teens text and use social media sites — a good chunk of them daily — but they still prefer communicating face to face, according to a survey.
Many U.S. teens say they are addicted to social media and texting and often want to unplug. But they feel positive overall about how social media sites such as Facebook and text messaging have helped them connect with friends and family.
The mixed feelings that teens have about digital communication sheds new light on a population growing up immersed in online technology. Research is scant on the behavioral and developmental effects of technology on youth.
A national survey of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 13 and 17 by the child advocacy group Common Sense Media shows how pervasive mobile communications has become for that age group.
“Today’s 13- to 17-year-olds are the first generation to go through their entire teen years with such an array of digital devices and platforms,” said Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer. “This report reads like a primer for parents to teens and tweens — to help them understand how their kids are engaging with technology and to highlight any impact it might be having on their social and emotional well being.”
Text messaging is still the favored application of teens for communicating.
Two-thirds of respondents said they text every day and half said they visit social networking sites daily. One-quarter of teens use at least two different types of social media a day.
Facebook, which is considering lowering its age minimum, dominates teens, with seven out of 10 people surveyed saying they have an account compared to 6 percent for Twitter and 1 percent for GooglePlus and MySpace.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): One Person's Story

By Karyn Thompson

Yahoo VoicesHas a friend or a loved one ever called you a "worry wart?" Do you find that, once you start worrying, it's difficult to stop yourself? Have you been feeling this way for a long time? If so, it's possible that you suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or GAD), an anxiety disorder that is estimated to afflict 6.8 million Americans (3.1%) each year.

My journey with GAD began when I was 16 years old. One evening, while working a lonely job in the stockroom of a retail store, I was suddenly overcome by an intense feeling of dread, that something wasn't "right." This feeling was accompanied by tearfulness that I could not control. I made it through my shift (just barely) and drove home in tears; I had no idea what was happening to me and couldn't explain to my parents what I was experiencing. I stayed home from school for a couple of days while the feeling gradually subsided and I was able to forget that it had happened (for a while).
A few years later, I went off to college, one of the most exciting and stressful events of a young person's life, and I loved meeting so many wonderful new people. When I returned home at winter break, suddenly separated from my new lifelong friends, I was overwhelmed by the same intense feelings of anxiety, dread, and tearfulness. Again, I didn't know what was happening and my family was at a loss of what to do about it. As I adjusted to being at home with my family again, the feelings gradually faded, and then returned when I went back to school.
A pattern began to emerge: any adjustment to my situation or any stressful personal problem seemed to bring on an attack of this intense dread, and it got to a point where I was experiencing it constantly for several months. At this point, my family and I finally decided that a visit to a psychiatrist was necessary, and that was when I finally got my diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
GAD is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association as a tendency to worry nearly every day, with an inability to stop worrying once started, for a period of at least six months. It can also be characterized by physical symptoms, such as agitation, an inability to sit still, and muscle tension. The exact subjective experience may vary from person to person; the one thing we all have in common is this feeling of intense worry, anxiety, or dread about nothing specific or about small, insignificant life issues that other people would be able to set aside.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Teens Sleeping with Cell Phones: A Clear and Present

image via VATOR.TV
PBS This Emotional Life Blog~ You may already know that many teens sleep with their cell phone on or near the bed. As an adult, you yourself may sleep with your cell phone and see no problem with this behavior.
A closer look at the reasons that 4 out of 5 teens sleep with their phone, however, gives cause for concern. While for some teens, the night use of the phone is as a clock or alarm, for most the phone is on all night to connect with peers.
This “on call” status can reflect obligation, anxious need, and even addiction. It jeopardizes physical, emotional and cognitive functioning and limits domains of influence and connection.

The peer pressure “to be available” used to mean hanging out after school. It takes on different proportions when it means being available 24/7. Teens in focus groups report that they sleep with a phone under the pillow in case someone contacts them. They report wanting to be available for a friend in need but dislike being called for unnecessary issues, pranks, or by bored friends.
At an age when self-esteem hinges on peer acceptance, being caught in the demands of always being available is difficult. Many teens report stories of friends getting insulted, angry or upset if a text message or phone call is not responded to immediately.
“People will wake me up in the middle of the night and I have to wake up and talk or they will think I’m mad at them or something.”

Sleep Deprivation
Anyone who has dealt with the sleep deprivation of being a new parent or knows the sleep disruption and hypervigilance of being “on call” can appreciate the undue physical and emotional cost of a teen’s all night phone connection.
Medical research increasingly underscores the need for adolescents to get sleep – in fact 9 hours compared with adult’s 8 hours. Teen sleep deprivation has been associated with memory deficits, impaired performance and alertness. The loss of REM or intense sleep can result in increased irritability, anxiety and depression, as well as reduced concentration and creativity.
Do you know if your teen is sleeping?
Does he/she need help protecting their sleep?

The Texting Trap
Cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends. One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day or 3000 texts a month.
Teens who use their cell phones to text are 42% more likely to sleep with their phones than teens who own phones but don’t text.
Texting is instantly gratifying and highly anxiety producing. Instant connection can create elation and self-value only to be replaced by the devastation of no response, a late response, the misinterpretation of a punctuation mark, a sexually harassing text, a text sent to the wrong person or a text that is later regretted.
Neuro-imaging has shown that back and forth texting floods the pleasure centers of the brain, the same area that lights up when using heroin. The emotional disruption of a real or perceived negative response, however, necessitates more texting to repair the mood, to fix the feelings of rejection, blame and disconnection. The addictive potential is obvious.
Texting as an addiction jeopardizes sleep, cognitive functioning and real relating- making dependence on it greater and greater.

Read the full article

Learn more about teen cell phone addiction treatment 

Learn more about teen behavioral addiction treatments

Teen Use of Salvia Divinorum Raises Alarms

By Patrik Jonsson
Abilene Report News~ ATLANTA -- Concern about salvia divinorum, a shamanistic herb from Mexico that some U.S. teenagers are using to get a hallucinogenic high, not only is spurring parents to have heart-to-heart talks with kids but also has led some states to outlaw it.
Photo Credit: NPR
A concentrated leaf compound that's usually smoked in water pipes, salvia divinorum -- known as "Sally D" or "magic mint" on the streets -- causes users to briefly lose their grip on reality. Some 3,500 video clips of teens experimenting with the drug have popped up on YouTube, driving up its popularity even as vendors, aware of efforts to ban it, are basically throwing going-out-of-business sales.
The highly concentrated compound made from a kind of mint plant remains legal in all but eight states, available in smoke shops and even gas station mini-marts. It can also be obtained via the Internet. Its easy availability and disorienting properties come as a surprise to parents and many lawmakers, who are asking why the U.S. government has not yet outlawed its sale.
Yet salvia's unusual chemistry, nontoxicity, and potential research benefits have made the compound a cause célèbre among some researchers and spiritualists who say prohibition is the wrong tack for a substance whose effects are so uncomfortable that few people try it more than once or twice.
"Salvia has become an Internet phenomenon where, in talking to kids, their perception around it is, 'Well, it must not be that bad for you because it's legal,' and that's a real dangerous assumption to make," says Jonathan Appel, a criminal-justice professor at Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio, who has studied the salvia phenomenon. "The heavy-user group is late adolescents (and) early adults who are experimenting with substances, many of whom are attracted to ... a kind of distorted identity search, sometimes seeking the sacred in a culture where we may have lost some ability to see what is sacred."
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists salvia as a "drug of concern" -- the first step in classifying a drug as a controlled substance.
But parents and state and local lawmakers, many showing YouTube clips in public hearings, are not waiting for Washington to move. Seven states now classify salvia as a controlled substance, banning its use and sale, and Maine prohibits minors from using it. Delaware banned it after it was linked, at least in part, to a teen's suicide in 2006. As many as a dozen others are considering similar legislation.

Ex teen addict talks about huffing air freshener

Learn more about one ex addict's story about huffing air freshener

Learn more about teen huffing/inhalant abuse treatment

Learn more about teen addiction treatments

Vancouver police issue warning after dance party revellers treated for GHB overdoses

Image from Addiction Search

Vancouver Sun~  Vancouver police are warning recreational users of GHB — the so-called date rape drug — after two teens and a 20-year-old nearly died of overdoses at a Vancouver dance party on May 31.

Sgt. Randy Fincham said residents living near the Polish Veterans Hall on Kingsway called police about 10 p.m. last Friday to report large groups of young people milling about in the street and in nearby yards and alleys.

When officers arrived, they saw a 20-year-old man — foaming at the mouth and in medical distress — being carried from the hall by friends.

As police patrolled the area, they found a 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl also both foaming at the mouth and unconscious.

All three, who had overdosed on GHB, were taken to hospital and put in the intensive care unit. They have since been released.

"We would like to encourage parents to have a conversation with their children regarding the harmful and potentially lethal consequences of consuming both recreational and prescription drugs," Fincham said. "Police and community resources are available to assist families struggling with both recreational and habitual drug concerns."

He said police have an ongoing investigation into where the GHB came from, although police believe all three victims took it voluntarily.

Teen Athletes at Risk for Opioid Abuse

By Flor Cianchetti

Yahoo Health~ Sports are a great way for teens to maintain physical and mental health. But teen athletes can get injured. Sometimes, those injuries are so painful that teens are prescribed opioid painkillers, which might introduce the opportunity for drug misuse.

A recent study found that teens who played team sports were at risk for opioid medication misuse.
Teens who participated in sports were more likely to get injured than those who did not play organized sports, and the teen athletes' doctors often prescribed opioid medications (narcotics) to relieve their pain.
But easy access to opioid medications by teen athletes may offer an opportunity for drug abuse, according to the authors of this study.
This recent study — which looked at whether sports participation among adolescents was associated with the use of opioid medications — was conducted by Philip Veliz, PhD, of the Institute for Research of Women and Gender from the University of Michigan, and colleagues.
According to Dr. Veliz, “We should expect that adolescents who participate in competitive sports at the interscholastic level are at a greater risk to get injured and, subsequently, be more likely to be prescribed opioids to manage pain.”
The study included a total of 1,540 adolescent students from schools in Michigan who filled out a survey for three consecutive school years during 2009 to 2012. Students were between 11 and 17 years old (average age 14) when they completed their first survey, between 12 and 18 when they filled out the second survey and between 13 and 19 during the last survey.
The following four questions were included in the surveys to assess the medical use, improper medical use (used too much or too often) and non-medical use of opioid medications:
  1. “On how many occasions in the past 12 months has a doctor, dentist, or nurse prescribed the following types of medicine for you?"
  2. "On how many occasions (if any) in the past 12 months have you used too much (e.g., higher doses, more frequent doses) of your prescribed medication?"
  3. "On how many occasions (if any) in the past 12 months have you intentionally gotten high with your prescribed medication or used it to increase other drug or alcohol effects?"
  4. "On how many occasions in the past 12 months have you used the following types of medicines not prescribed to you?"

Climbing Up From Rock Bottom: I Have Schizoaffective Disorder

by ClosertoFine

Experience Project~ I began having mental health issues (mainly depression and an eating disorder) when I was fourteen but I was not diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder until I was 19.  It was at 19 that I began to experience severe paranoia.  Shortly after that the voices began.  I tried to ignore them.  I tried to go on with my life but I was overwhelmed.  I ended up overdosing on my antidepressant at age 20.  For me that was rock bottom.  

When I woke up in the emergency room with tubes and monitors everywhere I was not happy to have lived through the overdose.  I was angry.  I spent a few days on the cardiac floor then was admitted to a short term psychiatric unit with a 24 hour "velcro" sitter (aka someone who's job it was to watch me 24/7).  I had the sitter because I still wanted to die and was attempting to hurt myself even while on the locked psych unit.  After 72 hours on the psych unit I tried to demand to be released.  The psychiatrist took me to court and had me declared incompetent and I was placed on probate status and remanded to the hospital.  So I ended up spending about 2 months on the unit that normally does not hold anyone for more than 7 days.  For quite a while of that I was absolutely out of control.  I wanted to hurt myself so badly that I spent quite a bit of time in isolation, under sedation, or in restraints.  
Eventually the psychiatrist sat me down and basically told me that the direction I was going was right to long term placement in a state run facility.  I just remember that hit me really hard because I had gone from being a really high achiever who was "destined for great things" to being considered for the state hospital.  I knew in my heart that I could put the pieces back together and I think he knew that too.  I just had to work with my illness and with the treatment team instead of fighting everything.  I sat there that morning and wrote a mission statement for my life (I'll have to find that and post it here sometime).  And then began the babysteps back to the real world.  It wasnt an immediate miraculous turn around.  It was a gradual improvement.  It was me fighting myself and fighting my demons.  
Eventually I improved enough to get rid of my sitter.  That was a big deal for me.  Then after having been there more than 2 months I improved enough that the court allowed me to be transferred to a private longer term type of hospital that was out of state.  When I was discharged from the short term unit I cried.  Those people had saved my life and I knew it.  My dad accompanied me when I flew to the hospital that was out of state.  The particular part of the facility that I was accepted into was a Women's Treatment Program.  It was a house on the grounds of a very well known hospital.  The house was open and as long as we attended treatment sessions we could come and go as we pleased.  I was supposed to be there 6 weeks.  I ended up only staying 11 days but during those days I was able to get used to not being locked up again.  I spent a large amount of the time riding the public transit system into the city and just kind of walking around and being a young woman out in the city again.  After 11 days I decided that I was not benefiting from the program and that my being there was not necessary.  I called my parents and the airline and a cab and flew home.  
The court then put me on community probate where they required that I report to a local mental health clinic a certain number of times per week.  At the same time I was trying to decide what to do with my life.  I put in an application to college.  As months went by things got better.  Eventually I was released from probate and was then considered a voluntary patient again. 
Much to my surprise the college that I had applied to accepted me.  Against my treatment team's advice I decided to begin school on a full time basis and move into the dorms.  It turned out to be an excellent choice for me.  I ended up changing my whole treatment team upon moving to school and that has worked out well.  I'm going into my third year of undergrad as a psychology major.  I have been dean's list every semester.  My meds are not completely stable (I've been through 25+ meds in countless combinations) but I have learned to function even when things are "off". 

Heavy Marijuana Use Alters Teenage Brain Structure

By Christopher Bergland

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ The Nest
Psychology Today~ It’s common sense that being a heavy cannabis user might make someone more spaced-out and less likely to perform well on memory tasks. Excessive chronic use of any type of drug is going to have detrimental mental and physical side effects.  

In a study published in December 2013, researchers at Northwestern Medicine discovered that the developing teenage brain may be particularly vulnerable to excessive marijuana use. The researchers found that teens who smoked marijuana daily for about three years had abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks.

In an alarming twist, the study found abnormalities in brain structure and also identified memory problems two years after the heavy marijuana users had stopped smoking pot as teenagers. The researchers found that memory-related structures in their brains appeared to shrink and collapse inward, reflecting a possible decrease in neuron volume. These findings indicate that there could be long-term detriments of chronic marijuana use as a teenage.

Cannabis use has long been associated with working memory impairments. However, the exact relationship between cannabis use and working memory neural circuitry remains somewhat of a mystery.

Previous research has found that prolonged cannabis use is detrimental to mental health. This Northwestern study is the first to target key brain regions in the deep subcortical gray matter of heavy marijuana smokers using structural MRI and to correlate abnormalities in these regions with working memory.

The Northwestern team examined whether a cannabis use disorder (CUD) was associated with differences in brain structure between control subjects with and without a CUD. The study reports that the younger the individuals were when they started chronically using marijuana, the more abnormally their brain regions were structured. The findings suggest that the brain regions related to memory may be more susceptible to the effects of cannabis if abuse starts at an earlier age.